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Ancient Chiefdoms of the Tombigbee

Written by John H. Blitz

A Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication


Within the last 50 years archaeologists have discovered that around the 10th century A.D., native southeastern peoples began a process of cultural change far more complex than anything that had occurred previously. These late prehistoric societies—known as Mississippian—have come to be regarded as chiefdoms. The chiefdoms are of great anthropological interest because in these kinds of societies social hierarchies or rank and status were first institutionalized.


Ancient Chiefdoms of the Tombigbee focuses on both the small- and large-scale Mississippian societies in the Tombigbee-Black Warrior River region of Alabama and Mississippi. Exploring the relationships involving polity size, degree of social ranking, and resource control provides insights into cycles of chiefdom development and fragmentation. Blitz concludes that the sanctified, security maintenance roles of communal food storage management and war leadership were a sufficient basis for formal chiefly authority but insufficient for economically based social stratification.

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And There I Stood with My Piccolo

Meredith Willson

And There I Stood with My Piccolo, originally published in 1948, is a zesty and colorful memoir of composer Meredith Willson’s early years—from growing up in Mason City, Iowa, to playing the flute with John Philip Sousa’s band and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, to a successful career in composing for radio and motion pictures in Hollywood. It was apparent to everyone, except maybe Willson himself, that he was on his way to something big.

Lighthearted and inspiring, it is no surprise Willson’s tales caught the attention of prominent Broadway producers. In 1957, just nine years after the publication of this book, The Music Man became a Broadway sensation, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Meredith Willson’s musical comedy is to this day arguably the most produced and beloved musical in American culture.

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Andrew Jackson, Southerner

Mark R. Cheathem

Many Americans view Andrew Jackson as a frontiersman who fought duels, killed Indians, and stole another man's wife. Historians have traditionally presented Jackson as a man who struggled to overcome the obstacles of his backwoods upbringing and helped create a more democratic United States. In his compelling new biography of Jackson, Mark R. Cheathem argues for a reassessment of these long-held views, suggesting that in fact "Old Hickory" lived as an elite southern gentleman.

Jackson grew up along the border between North Carolina and South Carolina, a district tied to Charleston, where the city's gentry engaged in the transatlantic marketplace. Jackson then moved to North Carolina, where he joined various political and kinship networks that provided him with entr?e into society. In fact, Cheathem contends, Jackson had already started to assume the characteristics of a southern gentleman by the time he arrived in Middle Tennessee in 1788.

After moving to Nashville, Jackson further ensconced himself in an exclusive social order by marrying the daughter of one of the city's cofounders, engaging in land speculation, and leading the state militia. Cheathem notes that through these ventures Jackson grew to own multiple plantations and cultivated them with the labor of almost two hundred slaves. His status also enabled him to build a military career focused on eradicating the nation's enemies, including Indians residing on land desired by white southerners. Jackson's military success eventually propelled him onto the national political stage in the 1820s, where he won two terms as president. Jackson's years as chief executive demonstrated the complexity of the expectations of elite white southern men, as he earned the approval of many white southerners by continuing to pursue Manifest Destiny and opposing the spread of abolitionism, yet earned their ire because of his efforts to fight nullification and the Second Bank of the United States.

By emphasizing Jackson's southern identity -- characterized by violence, honor, kinship, slavery, and Manifest Destiny -- Cheathem's narrative offers a bold new perspective on one of the nineteenth century's most renowned and controversial presidents.

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Angola to Zydeco

Louisiana Lives

R. Reese Fuller

Angola to Zydeco: Louisiana Lives is a collection of creative nonfiction pieces about the lively personalities who call south Louisiana home. Originally published in newspapers based in Lafayette-Times of Acadiana and Independent Weekly-the twenty-five profiles and features provide intriguing glimpses into the lives of well-known Louisianans such as James Lee Burke, Ernest J. Gaines, Elemore Morgan Jr., Buckwheat Zydeco, Marc Savoy, Boozoo Chavis, Calvin Borel, Santy Runyon, and Eddie Shuler. Author R. Reese Fuller also details the sometimes zany and sometimes tragic subjects that populate the cultural landscape of south Louisiana, from Tabasco peppers to Angola prison to cockfighting.

Fuller brings years of experience in the newspaper industry to bear on this collection, offering behind-the-scenes access not available elsewhere. Of particular note are his interviews with musicians and local celebrities, who reveal how their love of the region has influenced their work. Fuller's natural approach to storytelling creates a book that is a joy to read and truly represents the people of south Louisiana.

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Ann Arbor Observed

Selections from Then and Now

Grace Shackman

Twenty-five years ago Grace Shackman began to document the history of Ann Arbor’s buildings, events, and people in the Ann Arbor Observer. Soon Shackman’s articles, which depicted every aspect of life in Ann Arbor during the city’s earlier eras, became much-anticipated regular stories. Readers turned to her illuminating minihistories when they wanted to know about a particular landmark, structure, personality, organization, or business from Ann Arbor’s past. Packed with photographs from Ann Arbor of yesteryear and the present day, Ann Arbor Observed compiles the best of Shackman’s articles in one book divided into eight sections: public buildings and institutions, the University of Michigan, transportation, industry, downtown Ann Arbor, recreation and culture, social fabric and communities, and architecture. For long-time residents, Ann Arbor expatriates, University of Michigan alumni, and visitors alike, Ann Arbor Observed provides a rare glimpse of the bygone days of a town with a rich and varied history. Grace Shackman is a history columnist for the Ann Arbor Observer, the Community Observer, and the Old West Side News, as well as a writer for University of Michigan publications. She is the author of two previous books: Ann Arbor in the 19th Century and Ann Arbor in the 20th Century.

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Another's Country

Archaeological and Historical Perspectives on Cultural Interactions in the Southern Colonies

Edited by J.W. Joseph and Martha Zierden, with contributions from Ellen Shlasko,

The 18th-century South was a true melting pot, bringing together colonists from England, France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and other locations, in addition to African slaves—all of whom shared in the experiences of adapting to a new environment and interacting with American Indians. The shared process of immigration, adaptation, and creolization resulted in a rich and diverse historic mosaic of cultures.


The cultural encounters of these groups of settlers would ultimately define the meaning of life in the 19th-century South. The much-studied plantation society of that era and the Confederacy that sprang from it have become the enduring identities of the South. A full understanding of southern history is not possible, however, without first understanding the intermingling and interactions of the region's 18th-century settlers. In the essays collected here, some of the South's leading historical archaeologists examine various aspects of the colonial experience, attempting to understand how cultural identity was expressed, why cultural diversity was eventually replaced by a common identity, and how the various cultures intermeshed.


Written in accessible language, this book will be valuable to archaeologists and non-archaeologists alike. Cultural, architectural, and military historians, cultural anthropologists, geographers, genealogists, and others interested in the cultural legacy of the South will find much of value in this book.




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In the Southeast, where the written record goes back five hundred years, historical archaeology is a subdivision of history as well as anthropology, for the compleat historical archaeologist mines all sources. The contributors to this volume on the colonial Carolinas and Georgia ask historical questions, provide ample historical contexts, and present their findings in the common language of scholarship.—The Journal of Southern History

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"Answer at Once"

Letters of Mountain Families in Shenandoah National Park, 1934-1938

edited by Katrina M. Powell

With the Commonwealth of Virginia's Public Park Condemnation Act of 1928, the state surveyed for and acquired three thousand tracts of land that would become Shenandoah National Park. The Commonwealth condemned the homes of five hundred families so that their land could be "donated" to the federal government and placed under the auspices of the National Park Service. Prompted by the condemnation of their land, the residents began writing letters to National Park and other government officials to negotiate their rights and to request various services, property, and harvests. Typically represented in the popular media as lawless, illiterate, and incompetent, these mountaineers prove themselves otherwise in this poignant collection of letters. The history told by the residents themselves both adds to and counters the story that is generally accepted about them.

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Ante-Bellum Alabama

Town and Country

Ante-Bellum Alabama:  Town and Country was written to give the reader insight into importaant facers of Alabama’s ante-bellum history.  Presented in the form of case studies from the pre—Civil War period, the book deals with a city, a town, a planter’s family, rural social life, attitudes concerning race, and Alabama’s early agricultural and industrial development.

Ante-bellum Alabama’s primary interest was agriculture; the chief crop was King Cotton; and most of the people were agriculturalists.  Towns and cities came into existence to supply the agricultural needs of the state and to process and distribute farm commodities.  Similarly, Alabama’s industrial development began with the manufacture of implements for farm use, in response to the state’s agricultural needs.  Rural-agriculture influences dominated the American scene; and in this respect Alabama was typical of her region as well as of most of the United States.

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Antebellum Jefferson, Texas

Everyday Life in an East Texas Town

Jacques D. Bagur

Founded in 1845 as a steamboat port at the entryway to western markets from the Red River, Jefferson was a thriving center of trade until the steamboat traffic dried up in the 1870s. During its heyday, the town monopolized the shipping of cotton from all points west for 150 miles. Jefferson was the unofficial capital of East Texas, but it was also typical of boom towns in general. For this topical examination of a frontier town, Bagur draws from many government documents, but also from newspaper ads and plats. These sources provide intimate details of the lives of the early citizens of Jefferson, Texas. Their story is of interest to both local and state historians as well as to the many readers interested in capturing the flavor of life in old-time East Texas. “Astoundingly complete and a model for local history research, with appeal far beyond readers who have specific interests in Jefferson.”—Fred Tarpley, author of Jefferson: Riverport to the Southwest

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Anti-Black Violence in Twentieth-Century Texas

Bruce A. Glasrud

Anti-Black Violence in Twentieth Century Texas provides an arresting look at the history of violence against African Americans in Texas. From a lynching in Paris at the turn of the century to the 1998 murder of Jasper resident James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to death behind a truck, this volume uncovers the violent side of race relations in the Lone Star State. 
Historian Bruce A. Glasrud has curated an essential contribution to Texas history and historiography that will also bring attention to a chapter in the state’s history that, for many, is still very much a part of the present.

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